If you’ve ever moved someplace new after spending a significant period of time in a place where you were well known, it can be liberating when for the first time in a while no one knows who you are. In an era of networking profiles and google-me first penchants, it’s not as if folks have no context for who we are before we meet them, but there is usually a big difference between someone’s bio and the way they communicate at the water cooler.
Well the same goes for a college or university. It’s easy to change the look and feel, the colors of a site and to say “we’ve got a new site.” But does that new look and feel extend to the attitude? Does it reflect your values and your identity as an institution?
These might seem like strange questions, but they’re not.
Because all of the time you can invest trying to redesign a web site, migrating content from an old site to a new site, obscures the fact that if your site fails to really speak to the vibrancy of your college or university, then you’re failing to capitalize on the opportunities that a redesign presents you.
When you do a redesign, at least for a while, people’s eyes are on you. They might be lost at first, but what the changes say is “We’re trying to do things a different way.” And you’re asking your visitors to “take a second look at us, even if you’ve been here before.”
That’s a unique chance that you might not get again (until the next redesign…) and so, it’s critical to make sure the planning process includes a top-down assessment of KNOWING your institution and ensuring that the web content you publish reflects that identity.